Financial: Free! Ha! I actually calculated this with B, and given the upfront costs of breastfeeding, the savings of avoiding formula wouldn't kick in until 6 months. Given my early breastfeeding difficulties, my costs were substantially higher than others: Lactation visit at doctor $120, Home lactation visit 10 days later when I was about to give up: $150 (and that was with a discount because she felt sorry for me!), breastpump: $300 (with 20% off coupon!) + $50+ for extra flanges, parts, etc... Over $100 in freezer bags so far, Over $100 in nursing pads, soothie gel pads, nipple shields, lanolin. Already $100 in herbs for supply-boosting. 5 nursing bras at approximately $40/each=$200. I'm probably forgetting stuff, but you get the point. That would buy a LOT of formula. Plus we had to buy bottles anyways, for when I'm at work. Oh yeah, and all the extra food & snacks I'm eating? Probably a HUGE money suck, since I rarely plan well enough to bring what I need from home and end up buying overpriced snacks at work.
Convenience: A LOT to say here, so I'll break it into sub-categories.
- BFing in Public: Yes, when I'm at home or in a seated/private location somewhere with the baby, there is nothing more convenient than just feeding him when he's hungry. But how often is that? Something I didn't think about was how difficult it is to breastfeed in winter clothes. Most of our outings when L was wee were taking big brother to the park. It was winter. Mild, but still requiring a coat & uncomfortable to strip off coat & layers...and would draw a LOT of attention, I'm sure. So I had to pump & take a bottle. Not everywhere has an appropriate place to feed, I've had to go out to the car or a nurse in a bathroom at times. At the beginning, L had a LOT of trouble latching and I needed both hands to help him, so it was difficult to cover up or be discreet. Now that's better, and I cover us with a blanket---but its getting too hot for a blanket so now what?
- Pumping: It is disruptive and time-consuming at work and is definitely affecting my ability to get things done, especially long experiments with specific time points that you can't just switch around. When doing clinical work, forget it. I pump when/if I can and hope I don't leak/dry up in the process.
- Siblings: Since I've got the equipment, when we divide and conquer children, I get L. This definitely caused resentment from B early on and even now at times. It is also logistically difficult to tend to B's needs while L is glued to my chest, or worse, when I need to pump. I've wanted to spend a day with B just the two of us, but if L isn't with me, I'd have to pump---how would I work that out?
- Timing/Getting Away: Because of wanting to keep my supply up & protect my precccciiiioouus freezer stash, I have declined any traveling (and chances to present my work and add to my CV) and very very rarely go to any evening events---even the monthly ones touted by our chief as "great networking opportunities". I have to time any outings carefully around feeds on the weekends, or bring L with me, because I don't want to pump during the day. I have skipped book club & other social opportunities so I didn't have to work out pumping/feeding logistics. I pump one side EVERY morning (including weekends), which adds another complexity to our crazy morning routine, and taking time to pump & feed before I can go on my run cuts way into my potential running time.Now that its hot out, I will have to hurry STRAIGHT home from work with the pumped milk (which I keep in the fridge at work), no summer happy hours or park trips.
- Clothing: Yes, this is frivolous, but I like clothes & dressing a certain way. I can't wear a LOT of my clothes because they just aren't convenient for nursing or pumping. You cannot pump in a dress unless it had functional buttons on the top, which eliminates a lot of my favorite summer outfits. When I'm already feeling fat & unsexy, having to wear loose button downs or clingy (in the wrong places) knits with stretched out necklines is just the icing on the crap-cake.
- Baby: I've realized in retrospect that L's poor weight gain & extreme fussiness was due, at least partly, to my decreasing supply. Once we started giving him more than what I'd pumped the day before, he perked up & plumped up. But breastfeeding makes the diagnosis/treatment trickier, since you have literally no idea how many calories are coming in...it made the whole thing take longer & poor L suffered. Of course there are the potential health benefits of breastmilk. My anecdata (n=2) show no protection from illness/infection but no one will thankfully ever be able to see what L got & B didn't.
- Mom: I am really lucky in this regard, I don't have any chronic illness or condition that I have to leave untreated because of breastfeeding. I don't have to avoid any foods because L is allergic. I've known mothers that had really rough time it; my biggest issue was not being able to take decongestants when I had a sinus infection. I have had to limit exercise and limit any calorie restriction because I noticed a major drop in supply---so I guess my "healthiness" may be impacted a bit, who knows. There may be potential beneficial effects that offset that.
On the upside, I quite simply enjoy nursing L. Its actually a nice excuse to sit down (usually) and browse blogs or just be. The positioning isn't conducive to really interacting with L, but its nice to snuggle & the sleepy milk-drunk grins when he's done...priceless. I will miss this. This is what makes it worthwhile.